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ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD: THE ART OF KADER ATTIA

Kader Attia, Rochers Carrés (Square Rocks), 2008, gelatin silver print, 31 1/2 x 39 3/8". From the series “Rochers Carrés,” 2008–.

COMMON GROUNDS

The hyphen in lieux-communs (common-place) is a crazy root that pushes you beyond the edges. A forward moving root that keeps you in place.

A JAGGED EXPANSE of grayish-white concrete blocks stretches toward a placid sea. In the pale, caustic sunlight, the blocks cast stark shadows, as do the young men who appear here and there, precariously perched, staring across the water. This clearly man-made yet hostile landscape, the setting of Kader Attia’s photographic series “Rochers Carrés” (Square Rocks), 2008–, appears too bizarre to be real. But in fact the photos—shot from a variety of angles, ranging from bird’s-eye views to monolithic close-ups—depict a beach in Algiers, where the government placed these huge objects to prevent people from taking boats across the Mediterranean to Europe. These images—which I encountered at the 2009 African Photography

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